Dahl puts conviction behind him, runs for city council

Published 10:18 am Thursday, June 7, 2012

Candidate profile: Zeke Dahl, for city council

Zeke Dahl, a mayoral candidate from the 2010 election, has entered the race for Austin City Council.


Dahl filed to run for office Tuesday as one of four candidates running for a Ward 1 seat on the council. His decision to file comes less than a year after being convicted of check forgery, a felony.

“I went a little overboard with my money,” Dahl said. “We all make mistakes. I had a gambling problem and I went to rehab.”

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According to Minnesota court records, in August 2010, Dahl forged a check in his grandmother’s name and used her bank card to draw as much as $8,000 from her checking and savings accounts at a bank.

Dahl’s grandmother, who said in the complaint he had a gambling problem, asked the bank to have the money reimbursed, but was told she would have to pursue criminal charges.

Dahl said he spoke with an attorney and also checked with the Secretary of State’s office about his eligibility to run for office. His sentence is currently on a state of imposition, meaning that he is on probation now and was given five years to pay restitution of $7,100.

“It’s all about the financial part of it,” he said. “It keeps you under court control until you pay off that balance.”

As of Wednesday, Dahl still owed $6,215, which he has about four years left to pay. He said if he completes the terms of the state of imposition, the conviction will not be entered as a felony on his record, and he said he will remain eligible for office.

“I’m still a good person,” he said. “I can still do good deeds for society.”

City and county attorneys were unable to verify whether the stay of imposition would allow Dahl to hold office or not. While candidates filing for office have to sign a form saying they are eligible, the city does not investigate whether a criminal record blocks candidates from being eligible or not.

Dahl said he thought Austin was doing well, but could do better. As a start, he would like to make the city more financially independent.

“I’d like to keep more of the tax dollars in Austin and break away from LGA funding,” Dahl said.

As a council member, Dahl said he would also focus on finding work for people who are unemployed but qualified.

“There are a lot of people in this country who still suffer and still don’t have a job,” he said.

Dahl moved to Austin in 2009. Before that, he lived in San Diego, where he worked for border security to prevent illegal immigration to the U.S.

“We did a lot of things that peace officers should be doing,” he said. Contracted workers freed up the local law enforcement to focus on matters within the city.

Dahl said private law enforcement on border control is a good example of how to establish a strong partnership between the public and the private sectors. He said it is important for Austin to make use of such collaboration, especially on the community betterment program Vision 2020.

Currently, Dahl is looking for work. He said being a council member would be a good way to stay active in the community.

“When I ran for mayor, I went door to door, shook a lot of hands, held a lot of babies,” he said. “I learned a lot from the first election, the dos and don’ts.”

During an August primary for the 2010 election, Dahl came in last with 5 percent of the votes. He said he decided against running for mayor this year because the incumbent, Mayor Tom Stiehm, would be hard to beat. The Ward 1 seat that will open up when Brian McAlister leaves the council at the end of his term seemed a better chance.

Dahl said he thinks many people are already familiar with him.

“I think my name’s already out there,” he said, alluding to when he last ran for mayor and his forgery conviction. He said he hopes members of the community will look past that when they vote.

“I hope the community gives me a chance,” he said.